Pandemic conditions have imposed a natural experiment upon global populations. The dramatic changes in societal interactions due to social distancing measures to control the spread of the virus disrupt normal routines and the ability to connect to the larger world as part of daily life. Cities are innovating and are embracing new strategies to safely maintain access to public space to provide a critical connection to the larger world. These changes are reshaping the landscape of cities by reducing pollution, supporting urban local food systems, spurring changes to local biodiversity and improving opportunities for multimodal transportation.

To understand the influence of changes in city policy and practice that facilitate access to nature and the outdoors in response to the pandemic, Biophilic Cities and its partners in the Biophilic Cities Network are undertaking research with two broad components.

The first aim will be to catalog and assess best practices that cities are utilizing during the time of the pandemic. Investigations will combine recent cellphone data with existing data to analyze which policies influence the ability of vulnerable populations to use urban green space during the time of the pandemic. The second aim is to examine how lessons learned from the current pandemic instruct cities as to their future planning and design, so that urban communities can maximize their resilience in response to future natural resource crises and pandemics.